WAHOO – Referees hired by the county are listening this week to protests filed by property owners.

There were 248 property valuation protests filed with the Saunders County Clerk’s Office by the July 1 deadline. Saunders County Clerk Patti Lindgren said that was a few less than she expected, but in line with what was filed last year.

Prior to June 1, almost 9,300 valuation change notifications were sent out for the 16,390 parcels of property in Saunders County.

Last year, 245 valuation protests were filed from the 6,668 notifications sent out. Two years ago, the number was 453 protests and 10,954 notifications.

Given the number of notifications sent out by the assessor/register of deeds office had increased this year, Lindgren said she expected a few more filings this year.

After the notifications were mailed out, Assessor/Register of Deeds Rhonda Andresen had pointed out that some of the changes the increases this year were under $100. Other changes were decreases, but any change in value required a notification to be sent.

Although the protest number was manageable this year, Lindgren said most of the protests came in at the last minute.

“It’s usual for people to wait until the last week,” she said. “But, this year it was all in the last three days.”

Two independent appraisers have been hired by the county to act as “referees” for the protest hearing process. The referees’ recommendations, along with information from the assessor/register of deeds’ office, will then be passed along to the County Board of Equalization.

Hearings were scheduled with the protesting property owners this Wednesday and Thursday. An additional hearing date was set for July 16.

Lindgren said the board is expected act on the protests during its July 23 meeting.

Property value forms also continue to come in as a result of LB512. The action passed during the legislative session earlier this year allows property owners who saw at least 20 percent of their property significantly damaged in the March flooding to file for an adjustment to assessed value.

As of Friday, 35 forms were filed. Lindgren expected a few more to be filed before the July 15 deadline.

With this being a new law, she said office staff were still working through the nuts and bolts of the form and the entire process.

“This is a learning process for us,” she said.

The new law, however, isn’t just for this year.

Form 425 is to be used by owners of real property whose property has suffered significant damage as a result of a calamity occurring on or after Jan. 1 and before July 1 of an assessment year.

“It’s not uncommon when the change laws, we have to tweak it,” Lindgren said.

For example, those filing Form 425 are now required to submit to both the clerk’s office and the assessor’s office. She said that seems a little redundant and will be recommending that only one office receive them and then share with the other.

“The July 15 deadline is also too late,” she added.

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